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PCBs, fungicide open brain cells to Parkinson's assault

CBs create havoc in the body's cellular system by producing free radicals, which leads to a process known as oxidative stress (OS). Oxidative stress is thought to be one of the main causes of cell degeneration. Normally, antioxidants can balance the damage done by OS. But toxic pesticide exposure, combined with the normal aging process, shifts the equilibrium toward oxidative stress and neurodegeneration.

The Rochester studies demonstrate, for the first time, the intricate OS and antioxidant responses to PCBs in dopamine neurons. Investigators treated dopamine cells and other brain cells with PCBs and documented the activation of oxidative-stress related pathways. Further research will evaluate how PCBs become risk factors for disease.

PCBs, used as industrial coolants and lubricants, were banned in 1977 but remain widespread in the environment due to their improper disposal. They linger in the food chain, particularly in wild and farmed salmon and other fish. PCBs accumulate in the body in fat and brain cells and other tissues. The potential adverse health effects of PCBs are dependent upon many factors, such as the levels of exposure, the toxicities of individual chemicals present in any given mixture, and their interactive properties.

Pesticides such as maneb remain in farmed soil for 20-75 days following application and can be found on produce for more than three weeks, even after washing, according to researchers. Until now, the effect of maneb on oxidative stress responses in dopamine neurons was unknown.

But Opanashuk's group shows that just as in exposure to PCBs, cells treated with low levels of maneb also undergo changes that disturb the balance in the antioxidant defense system. Another concern is whether maneb causes more damage when people are exposed in combination with other pesticides, which occurs in rural communities. Opanashuk hopes the research will lead to developing safety guidelines and determining more c
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Contact: Leslie Orr
leslie_orr@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-5774
University of Rochester Medical Center
9-Feb-2005


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